Discuss the dramatic role or significance of the witches in this play

Essay by cherrygirl_hahaHigh School, 12th grade May 2004

download word file, 5 pages 3.7

In this play "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare the role of the witches and supernatural are central to the play. Although all of supernatural do not have exactly same role in the play, the main purposes of supernatural are to attract the attention from audience, to foreshadow future events, to show the characteristics of individual, and to connect the idea with the themes. Also, this idea of witchcraft and demonology is continued throughout as to emphasis on the antithesis to the divinely ordained order of the universe and helps create dramatic emphasis. As evident from the play, special uses of clothing and weather helps determine the true character of the witches.

Shakespeare has chosen to write this play where the topics explored within the play were very relevant to the time in which it was written. Practising witchcraft became an executable offence in 1604 so the witches in the play would have caused quite some controversy.

Regicide, the murder of a king or queen, was also an extremely serious crime as the king was believed to have been chosen by God, so to kill the king was to act against God and also nature. The King of England at that time when the play was written, James I, was interested in supernatural. He survived an assassination attempt in his youth. All these aspects of witchcraft in the play would have appealed to King James which implies it could have been written for him.

The use of supernatural in Macbeth can be seen as a dramatic device that has a series of effects that impacted the Elizabethan audience and the readers in the twentieth century. The witches have the ability to foreshadow events in the play and in doing so create suspense for the Elizabethan audience of the past. In addition, the...